Why Project Drawdown Is Our Best Hope To Avoid A Runaway Greenhouse Effect

Glenn Fay, Jr.
Dec 11, 2019 · 3 min read

A lot of people are concerned about global warming but don’t know what to do about it.

The New York Times bestseller book, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken, was produced by researchers who offer realistic solutions to reversing carbon. Drawdown suggests 100 techniques and practices that will draw down and reduce the carbon in the atmosphere and potentially stabilize the warming over the next 30 years. It includes energy, conservation, social and economic solutions that are ranked according to effectiveness.

Photo by Glenn Fay

offers calculations of how many gigatons of CO2 could be reduced by different actions, the net cost of the solutions, and net savings as a result of each solution are tabulated. In most cases, the savings outweigh the costs manyfold. Hawken’s book is very readable with lots of examples and photos but little in the way of in-depth explanation. Nonetheless, the information is eye-opening. The top five solutions by rank are:

-Refrigerant management

-Onshore Wind Turbines

-Reduced Food Waste

-Plant-Rich Diet

-Tropical Forests

Who knew that old HFC refrigerants (89 gigatons of carbon savings) and wind turbines (84 gigatons of carbon savings) would have the biggest impacts on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere? What the book lacks with in-depth and action steps, the organization Project Drawdown makes up for. Project Drawdown actually explains the how and why of each solution, and why it would behoove us to work with other countries on these projects since many of them have worldwide opportunities and implications.

As says, “Every refrigerator and air conditioner contains chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat to enable chilling. Refrigerants, specifically CFCs and HCFCs, were once culprits in depleting the ozone layer. Thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, they have been phased out. HFCs, the primary replacement, spare the ozone layer but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Our analysis includes emissions reductions that can be achieved through the management and destruction of refrigerants already in circulation. Over thirty years, containing 87 percent of refrigerants likely to be released could avoid emissions equivalent to 89.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Phasing out HFCs per the Kigali accord could avoid additional emissions equivalent to 25 to 78 gigatons of carbon dioxide … “

Just as we tackled the destruction of the ozone, we can safely eliminate HFCs. Like the ozone layer, HFCs are a worldwide problem that will need a worldwide solution. We can support this effort by supporting global agreements like the Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Accord, and the Paris Agreement, and future treaties that have the hope of mitigating HFCs. You can find out how to part of the solutions here: .

Reducing food waste and consuming more plants and less industrialized meat are goals that can be tackled locally. If all of us would simply eat a little less food, and waste a little less food and water it would make an enormous impact on carbon. These are goals that don’t need global agreements to accomplish and therefore are low-hanging fruit so to speak.

Solution number 6 relates to educating women, by the way. Since educated women tend to have few kids, the impact of educating women would slow the population boom and reduce demands on food, water, and resources world wide. Educating more women is sure to be an unpopular solution, especially in cultures where women don’t have the freedom and resources that men have. But nonetheless, the simple act of educating people and offering them meaningful careers is a plausible goal that would result in a lot of good, not just for the climate.

Many solutions to drawing down carbon in the air will require us to observe the international carbon treaties like the Paris Agreement with other countries. Getting rid of HFCs and regrowing forests are fine examples. But plenty of other solutions are things we can do without changing our lifestyles a whole lot. Drawdown helps us see these practical solutions.

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Glenn Fay, Jr.

Written by

Author of Vermont’s Ebenezer Allen: Patriot, Commando and Emancipator by Arcadia/The History Press (June 24, 2021. EdD, University of Vermont.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

Glenn Fay, Jr.

Written by

Author of Vermont’s Ebenezer Allen: Patriot, Commando and Emancipator by Arcadia/The History Press (June 24, 2021. EdD, University of Vermont.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn

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